Category Archives: peace

On Veteran’s Day, thoughts on building a lasting peace

Just eight days before the Nov. 11, 1918 Armistice ending World War I, my great uncle, Ira Pitzer, was killed during battle in France. His mother was overcome with grief for the rest of her life, a tragedy shared by so many families who have served in the military.

Veterans Day is to honor the service and sacrifice of the men and women in the armed forces. But Veterans Day also should mean something more, an inspiration to win a lasting peace.

As President Dwight Eisenhower once proclaimed on Veterans Day: “Let us reconsecrate ourselves to the task of promoting an enduring peace so that their efforts shall not have been in vain.”

See my full commentary in the Des Moines Register:

Leave a comment

Filed under peace, Uncategorized

Big East Basketball to Shine Light on War-torn and Hungry Sudan

By 1 June, about 40,000 people displaced from Abyei after the town's takeover by Sudan Armed Forces had been registered in the Abyei area, Unity State and the greater Bahr El-Ghazal region and were receiving humanitarian assistance. Photos: UNMIS/Issac Gideon.

This Wednesday, when Villanova University squares off against Seton Hall, you can expect another competitive Big East Conference basketball game. This game will differ from others in that it will seek to build support for Peace in Sudan.

Villanova and Seton Hall are partnering with Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in “Playing for Peace” to help bring an end to conflict, hunger and suffering in Sudan and South Sudan. Sudan and South Sudan fought a decades-long civil war that ended in 2005 with a peace agreement. However, violence has continued and the agreement has not been fully implemented.

Peace activism will take place throughout the game. Students will be handed a flyer showing how they can help by contacting the White House and urging the administration to support the peace process.

South Sudan became the world’s newest country last July, gaining independence from Sudan. However, peace in the region remains elusive as conflict and border tensions continue. It is critical that UN peacekeeping missions be supported and fully funded to protect civilians, and help establish conditions to build a lasting peace and development.

A peacekeeping mission called UNISFA was deployed to Abyei, which is a disputed territory on the border between Sudan and South Sudan. This oil rich region is claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan, and fighting has taken place there for years despite the 2005 agreement. UNISFA is there to make sure the area is demilitarized and made safe for civilians.

The threats go beyond the guns. Hunger and poverty still dominate the countryside. Drought often harms food production efforts and malnutrition is a major threat to children. Displacement from conflict makes this situation even more desperate. Conflict exists not only between South Sudan and Sudan, but also between rival tribes.

At this very moment, aid agencies are trying to help 50,000 displaced persons in the Jonglei State of South Sudan. CRS reports that the ethnic conflict between the Lou Nuer and Murle tribes has claimed an estimated 1,000 lives in the past six months. One of the driving forces behind this internal conflict is the lack of resources. Hunger and poverty feed desperation and violence.

Isaac Boyd of CRS Sudan says, “After nearly four decades of working in Sudan and South Sudan, CRS recognizes that sustainable development and peace are tightly interwoven. To contribute to a lasting improvement in the level of basic services and economic opportunities available to people throughout South Sudan, it is imperative to support communities to find meaningful, concrete ways to resolve their differences and put an end to destructive conflict. Simultaneously, tensions between groups are often exacerbated by the scarcity of basic services like access to water, schools, or health clinics. Development and peace have to happen at the same time.”

Will there be enough resources for aid agencies to reinforce the drive for peace? CRS is sponsoring emergency aid as well as long-term food security projects. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is reporting that its 2012 relief operation for South Sudan is short 179 million dollars. WFP relies entirely on voluntary donations from governments and the public.

Without food, children in Sudan will suffer lasting physical and mental damage, thereby stunting the next generation. Without food for schoolchildren, education will suffer. A national school lunch program still needs to be established.

Playing for Peace is part of a series of events about Sudan sponsored by Villanova University. For more information, please visit the CRS newswire.

Article first published as Big East Basketball to Shine Light on War-Torn and Hungry Sudan on Blogcritics.

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger, peace

October 5th, 1947 – A Television First To Save Europe From Starvation

President Harry Truman addressed the nation about the hunger crisis facing Europe (photo courtesy of the Truman Library)

On October 5, 1947 the first presidential address ever televised from the White House was delivered by Harry Truman. The President discussed the urgent hunger crisis facing Europe and how Americans could help through food conservation.

At that time Europe was struggling in its recovery from World War II. Rebuilding from the devastation was difficult enough, but a harsh winter followed by a drought during 1947 ruined crops. Food shortages were rampant and Europe needed food to survive and rebuild.

President Truman said of Europe, “The nations of Western Europe will soon be scraping the bottom of the food barrel. They cannot get through the coming winter and spring without help–generous help–from the United States and from other countries which have food to spare.

“I know every American feels in his heart that we must help to prevent starvation and distress among our fellow men in other countries…. Their most urgent need is food. If the peace should be lost because we failed to share our food with hungry people, there would be no more tragic example in all history of a peace needlessly lost.”

Food from the United States helped Europe get through the winter of 1947-1948 and helped set the foundation for the Marshall Plan. It was this initiative that brought about Europe’s recovery.

In addition to President Truman, other speakers for the program included Secretary of State George C. Marshall, Secretary of Agriculture Clinton P. Anderson, Secretary of Commerce W. Averell Harriman, and Charles Luckman, who was the Chairman of the Citizens Food Committee.

Read the full text of President Truman’s October 5, 1947 statement.

Listen to George Marshall’s remarks on October 5, 1947. (audio is faint)

Read how Americans fought hunger in Europe during the Fall of 1947:

Take in a Silent Guest this Thanksgiving (The 1947 Silent Guest Program to Buy CARE packages)

Transformational Leadership in Tackling Global Hunger Crisis (The Friendship Train of 1947)

Old Soldiers Never Die, They Just Fade Away…..And Fight Global Hunger (CARE Packages after World War II)

Leave a comment

Filed under drought, Europe, global hunger, Harry Truman, History, malnutrition, peace, World War II

Yemen Nears Breaking Point, Humanitarian Crisis Could Worsen

Aisha is an internally displaced Yemeni girl in Southern Yemen living in an elementary school. She is one of many Yemeni children who are suffering from hunger and displacement. WFP and other aid agencies need support in order to carry out child feeding and rehabilitation programs. (WFP/Abeer Etefa)

As fighting intensifies in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa, the UN World Food Programme (WFP) has been forced to limit hunger relief operations in that area. The United Nations is evacuating some of its staff from Sanaa.

WFP is carrying on its relief operations in other parts of Yemen, a country with one of the highest rates of hunger and malnutrition in the world. The WFP mission is plagued by a lack of funding and an inability to reach all of the needy. WFP relies on voluntary funding from governments and the public.

What started earlier this year in Yemen with peaceful demonstrators seeking freedom from a corrupt President has now evolved into a shootout between rival factions seeking to gain power. The fear now is that civil war could erupt in Yemen which will bring immense human suffering.

Millions of Yemenis are already deeply mired in hunger and poverty. Many are getting by on very little sustenance as it is. A civil war will push Yemen closer and closer to famine.

Yemenis have had to bear the brunt of years of internal strife and poverty. The World Food Programme currently is feeding displaced persons in Northern Yemen who suffered through years of conflict between the government and rebels. In Southern Yemen thousands have been displaced this year from fighting between the government and suspected Al Qaeda militants. WFP is feeding them as part of an emergency safety net operation which is intended to reach over 2 million Yemenis, although lack of funding has hampered this operation.

Throughout most of Yemen, families can barely afford bread as food prices are high. These prices have skyrocketed since protests against President Saleh began earlier this year.

Yemen needs a peaceful solution and fast. President Obama at the UN said yesterday, “In Yemen, men, women and children gather by the thousands in towns and city squares every day with the hope that their determination and spilled blood will prevail over a corrupt system. America supports those aspirations. We must work with Yemen’s neighbors and our partners around the world to seek a path that allows for a peaceful transition of power from President Saleh, and a movement to free and fair elections as soon as possible.”

Yemen also needs humanitarian aid and every effort must be made right now to ensure that it can flow.The international community has to stand by Yemen. This means full funding for World Food Programme and UNICEF operations. Food stocks have to be ensured.

UNICEF , which feeds malnourished children, needs to have a full supply of plumpy’nut food and medicines to reach all suffering children in Yemen. Tens of thousands of children die in Yemen each year from easily preventable causes. The situation could deteriorate even further.

About a week ago, there was at least some hope of a peaceful settlement and transition of power. There was a back-to-school campaign to be launched that UNICEF was promoting with Yemen’s ministry of education. This was a project full of hope that could build Yemen’s future. But then the fighting began.

UNICEF’s Yemen director Geert Cappelaere said earlier this week, “it is another sad day sitting behind a desk with heavy shooting in the background.”

To sign a petition supporting humanitarian relief in Yemen, visit CARE 2 .

For the latest breaking news on the crisis, see the New York Times with Laura Kasinof reporting from Sanaa.

Article first published as Yemen Nears Breaking Point, Humanitarian Crisis Could Worsen on Blogcritics.

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger, malnutrition, Middle East, peace, plumpy'nut, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, UNICEF, World Food Programme, Yemen

Articles on Fighting Hunger in Yemen- by William Lambers

Interview in Yemen Times

Hunger in Yemen: An Activist Spotlight

Food for Education is the Great Hope for Yemen (Yemen Post)

Fighting Hunger in Yemen (New York Times letter)

Interview: Rajia Sharhan of UNICEF Yemen

Interview: Geert Cappelaere of UNICEF on the Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen

Plotting the 2012 War Against Hunger in Yemen

Budget Debates in Congress Loom over Yemen Crisis

WFP Director Warns of Hunger Threat Stalking Yemen

Over 1 Million in Yemen Denied Emergency Food Rations

Inside Yemen: Hunger from Conflict, High Food Prices

Without Nutrition and Education Yemen Cannot Thrive

Yemen Nears Breaking Point, Humanitarian Crisis Could Worsen

U.S. Increases Drone Attacks in Yemen, Hunger Relief Remains Low on Funding

In Yemen’s Arab Spring, Crucial to Look Beyond Al Qaeda

Yemen: Food for Peace Plan Low on Funding

Yemen’s Future is Being Made Now

Could Yemen be the Next Somalia?

Crisis in Yemen: Children Suffering from Malnutrition

1000 Days of Peril in Yemen: The Children Must Be Fed

Rapidly Deteriorating Humanitarian Crisis in Yemen

U.S.- Yemen Partnership Can Mean Food for Peace

For Yemen it’s Bread, Fuel or Chaos

Hunger in Yemen Expanding at Alarming Rate

Yemen Undergoing Its Worst Humanitarian Crisis Ever

U.S. Strategy in Yemen Should Fight Hunger

Underfunded Hunger Relief Mission Resumes in Yemen, but Thousands Displaced

Street Battles in Yemen

Plumpynut to the Rescue in Yemen

Yemen: What Can Be Done to Help Now

Yemen: Low Funding Limits Hunger Relief Operation

Yemen: When a “CARE Package” Brings Education and Hope

Osama bin Laden Dead, Al Qaeda Lives on in Food Insecure Yemen

Yemen: Recovering Livelihoods in Conflict-Torn North

Yemen: Children Echo Timeless Call for Peace

U.S. Wants Change in Yemen, But Where Is the food?

Food to Reinforce Peace Process in Yemen

For Yemen There Is No Alternative To Peace

Yemen: Protests, Chaos and Hunger

Protests in Food-Insecure Yemen

London, Yemen, and Plumpy’nut

Like Egypt, Yemen Suffers from High Food Prices

Yemen Hunger Relief Mission Underfunded by Nearly $70 Million

Clinton in Yemen as Humanitarian Crisis Reaches Tipping Point

What Matters to the People of Yemen

More Powerful Than Al Qaeda: Hunger in Yemen

Malnourished Children in Yemen Need Plumpy’nut

Yemen: hunger relief mission remains woefully underfunded

Petition to President Obama and the Senate on fighting hunger in Yemen

WFP, Yemen launch emergency operation

Fighting Al-Qaeda, Hunger, and Poverty in Yemen

U.S. and Allies Ignoring Child Hunger Crisis in Yemen

Friends of Yemen can restart vital Food for Education program

Obama’s MDG Speech Will Test Yemen Policy

Civilians need aid after Yemen offensive against Al Qaeda

Food for Education critical for Yemen and the Millennium Development Goals

Feed Those Displaced by the War in Yemen

What’s troubling about the Pentagon’s plan for Yemen

Against Hunger, Poverty, Desperation and Chaos in Yemen

Senate needs to back Yemen resolution with food aid

Al Qaeda, War, Hunger, and Poverty

Relief Fund Created for Victims of Conflict and Hunger in Yemen

Food For Education Is The Great Hope For Yemen

Yemen Needs Its Own Roadmap to End Hunger

White House says UN relief plan for Yemen woefully underfunded

Obama’s Feed the Future Should Include Food for Education in Yemen

Stopping the Hunger and Despair in Yemen

World Food Programme provides aid to Somali refugees in Yemen

Remembering Hoover’s child feeding message as we face hunger crisis in Yemen

Unrest in Yemen Over Food Shortages: U.S. and Allies Need to Take Action

World Food Programme provides aid to Somali refugees in Yemen

Obama’s Policy Toward Yemen is Failing on Food

Hunger crisis escalates in Yemen, World Food Programme appeals for help

Hunger crisis escalates in Yemen, U.S. needs to show leadership

Low funding for World Food Programme causes ration cuts for victims of conflict in Yemen

Low Funding for WFP Threatens Vital Child Feeding Programs in Yemen

Interview with Andrew Moore of Save the Children in Yemen

Clinton’s Call for Development in Yemen Cannot Go Forward Without Food for Education

“The best way to really get at some of these underlying problems that exist is through an effective development strategy.” — Hillary Clinton

Humanitarian aid critical for peace process in Yemen

President Obama must lead to stop hunger crisis in Yemen

Sounding the alarm on hunger in Yemen

Conflict, hunger and the suffering of women in Yemen

U.S. Policy Toward Yemen Missing Key Component: Food

Hunger, Conflict, and the Suffering of Women in Yemen

150 Million in Military Aid for Yemen, Still No Funding for School Feeding

Jennifer Mizgata of the UN World Food Programme on the Hunger Crisis in Yemen

Hunger the Worst Enemy of Peace in Yemen

Lack of Funding for School Feeding in Yemen Not a Sound Strategy for Peace

Interview: Salman Omer of the World Food Programme in Yemen

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger, malnutrition, Middle East, peace, plumpy'nut, Save the Children, School feeding, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, Uncategorized, UNICEF, World Food Programme, Yemen

We Can Help Yemen With Food Aid

WFP also hopes to run a Food for Education program to give Yemeni children rations and encourage class attendance. This program has suffered from such a lack of funding that WFP has reduced its planned beneficiaries from 115,000 down to 59,000.

Catherine Herridge of Fox News just published a story about the growing threat of Al Qaeda in Yemen. Political instability in Yemen this year, with protesters calling for the removal of President Saleh, has weakened the ability of that government to tackle the Al Qaeda threat.

Herridge’s report quotes Matt Olsen, the new head of the National Counterterrorism Center, telling the Senate about Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Olsen says, “Whether Yemen is a safe haven, we are very concerned about the ability of the Yemeni government at this point to sustain any strong counterterrorism efforts, given the governance challenges that it faces. So, AQAP has had the opportunity to recruit inside Yemen and to plan and plot inside Yemen.”

But it’s critical when having the discussion of Yemen to also go beyond Al Qaeda and the political turmoil.

Far less reported are areas where the international community can take action immediately: hunger and malnutrition. Food for hungry Yemenis will be a most crucial oasis of calm in the storm of political unrest and Al Qaeda.

As we speak, millions of Yemenis are being crushed by high food prices. They cannot access basic foods. This was a crisis even before the Arab Spring came along. The political unrest has made it much worse.

A report from the UN World Food Programme (WFP) states that “the price of bread is still 50% above what it had been at the beginning of the year. In light of the fact that many Yemenis already spend between 30% and 35% of their daily income on bread, the inflation of bread prices could prove to be very damaging to the food security of Yemen’s poorest families.”

There are severely malnourished children in Yemen who could be saved with a simple intervention. Because these children are the future of that country, it’s crucial that those in power remember this when making Yemen policy.

The first step the international community can take is to boost the UN World Food Programme’s response to hunger in Yemen. Currently, WFP operations have received low funding and cannot reach all the hungry. Their plan involves emergency rations to help families afflicted with high food prices. But low funding means not all needy families can receive the rations. In addition, WFP is feeding the displaced in Southern and Northern Yemen.

An investment of around $60 million would ensure that full rations could be provided. Spread out over a coalition of nations, this is a relatively inexpensive investment.

Second is support for UNICEF’s work in treating malnourished children. This is most crucial for building the future of Yemen. A full supply of plumpy’nut needs to be shipped to Yemen as soon as possible to cover all the malnutrition cases. Again, this is another relatively small investment in the millions of dollars.

The third phase is to include Food for Work projects to build infrastructure and improve agricultural development. A national school lunch program including a take-home ration element will need to be instituted. This will be an effort with the government and communities working together. For instance, local shop owners and farmers would ideally become suppliers, at least in part of the school feeding program.

Food is a critical component of any peace plan for Yemen. It will strengthen the people of Yemen so they can better resolve these crisis areas. For food is the foundation of all things, whether it is peace, political stability, education, or economic development, all of which will inhibit Al Qaeda’s growth.

It’s very important to look at Yemen through this lens, particularly for those in power who make policy decisions about how to best help Yemen navigate the stormy waters in the Arab Spring

Article first published as In Yemen’s Arab Spring, Crucial to Look Beyond Al Qaeda on Blogcritics.

Leave a comment

Filed under global hunger, malnutrition, Middle East, peace, plumpy'nut, School feeding, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, UNICEF, World Food Programme, Yemen

Open Skies for Peace in the Age of Nuclear Weapons


Contributing to the development of peace worldwide by the creation of an Open Skies regime for aerial observation.

As the Cold War and the nuclear arms race escalated President Dwight Eisenhower offered the “open skies” peace initiative to the Soviet Union at the Geneva Conference in July, 1955. The idea was to allow peace planes from each country to fly over the territory of the other to inspect military forces and make sure no surprise attack preparations were taking place.  Watch the news video of the Geneva Conference followed by President Eisenhower explaining the purpose of open skies. You will also see a sample flight.

The Open Skies Plan was not accepted in 1955 but it was revived by President George H. Bush in 1989.

This led to the Open Skies Treaty of 1992 which included the United States, Canada, Russia and a number of nations in Europe. Watch this video about the treaty.

Video Celebrating Open Skies 20th Anniversary

Hillary Clinton on the Open Skies Treaty

Can Open Skies Be Expanded to More Nations?

Expanding Open Skies (New York Times)

How an Idea of Ike’s Could Help Settle India/Pakistan Nuclear Tensions–And Help Us Win the War on Terrorism (History News Network)

What Open Skies Can Do For Chinese-American Relations (History News Service)

Article in the Cincinnati Post titled “Open Skies to Build Trust.”

article about the Open Skies Treaty and its 500th flight

The Obama Administration moving forward with Open Skies Treaty

Open Skies Policy Should be Used by the Koreas (Cincinnati Enquirer)

“Open Skies” can play a role in the Korean peace and disarmament process. Click here to read the article in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Historical Documents About Open Skies

Over a month before the Open Skies proposal this article appeared in the Cincinnat Post (June 14, 1955) about Operation Alert, a civil defense drill against nuclear attack.

Read a memorandum of a meeting of President Eisenhower and his advisors discussing “Open Skies” at the Geneva Conference. (Courtesy Eisenhower Library)

Read excerpts from a memorandum of a conversation at the President’s luncheon for the Russian delegation at the Geneva Conference on July 20, 1955. (courtesy Eisenhower Library)

Article in July 22nd, 1955 Cincinnati Post about Ike’s “Open Skies” proposal.

Read excerpts from an “Open Skies for Peace” pamphlet published during the Eisenhower administration. (courtesy of The National Archives of the UK (PRO): ref. FO371/123712)

Read disarmament advisor Harold Stassen’s speech at the UN on October 7, 1955 about Open Skies and arms control. (courtesy Eisenhower Library)

Page 1 Page 2 Page 3 Page 4 Page 5 Page 6 Page 7 Page 8

Read a 1956 memorandum prepared by one of President Eisenhower’s assistants, Andrew Goodpaster, on the topic of confidence building measures and disarmament. (courtesy Eisenhower Library)

Click here to read a 1956 document which discusses the application of open skies in the Middle East. (courtesy Eisenhower Library)

Read here some responses to the Open Skies Middle East proposal

Page 1       Page 2        Page 3       Page 4

1992 Open Skies Treaty Fact Sheet

Read pages from 1992 Senate hearings on the Open Skies Treaty. These are answers from the Bush adminstration about Open Skies and how it can relate to the START Treaty and also potential expansion. (courtesy Cincinnati Public Library)

Open Skies Treaty Review Conference

Russian “Open Skies” mission over the United States.

Report by Tony D. Holmes, Major, USAF titled “Relevance of the Open Skies Treaty Program In the Twenty-First Century.”

Available at Amazon.com and Google Ebookstore

Nuclear Weapons

Open Skies for Peace

Leave a comment

Filed under arms control, Books, disarmament, Dwight Eisenhower, History, nuclear arms control, nuclear weapons, Open Skies Treaty, peace, Uncategorized

Post-Conflict Ivory Coast: An Interview with Annie Bodmer-Roy of Save the Children

Ten-month-old Sara has been found to be malnourished, and will receive treatment to make her strong and healthy again. Even before the conflict, already one in three children under five years old in Côte d'Ivoire was suffering from chronic malnutrition (Photo: Annie Bodmer-Roy/Save the Children)

Four months have passed since the conflict in the Ivory Coast came to an end following a disputed election. But the wounds run very deep in the West African nation.

There were thousands displaced by the fighting between supporters of President Alassane Ouattara and those of ex-President Laurent Gbagbo. Many of the refugees fear returning home. The conflict caused a loss of livelihoods, shelter, medical care and other basic services.

The Ivory Coast needs peace and reconciliation, as well as unity against the hunger and disease still attacking the population. Annie Bodmer-Roy of Save the Children recently talked about how the charity is taking action to help Ivory Coast recover from the violence.

What kinds of programs is Save the Children running in the Ivory Coast?

The conflict that hit the Ivory Coast following disputed elections in November 2010 had a huge impact on the population. As in conflict around the world, children have been hit the hardest. Pre-existing high levels of poverty even before the conflict – 49% of the population was living under the poverty line – were suddenly combined with large-scale loss of income as hundreds of thousands of families were forced to flee their homes for safety. This has meant that thousands of parents no longer have enough money to ensure enough food for their children. Widespread violence and looting also limited families’ access to health care and children’s access to schools as health workers and teachers fled the areas of fighting, hospitals were looted, and schools used as temporary camps for those families who had fled their homes.

In response to the increased needs of children and their families, Save the Children launched a large-scale emergency program, appealing for funds to help meet the immediate needs of children affected by the conflict. We’re currently operating across eight offices and are running seven different programs, including health; nutrition; food security and livelihoods; education; child protection; shelter; and water, sanitation and hygiene. We’re also running a civil society initiative where we provide small cash grants to local NGOs and community-based organisations for them to implement projects in their communities, enabling a local response to needs identified within the community as being the most pressing for families.

As so many families lost their means to an income, one initiative Save the Children has started running is a cash transfer programme, where the families most affected by the conflict are identified by our staff, and are provided with ID cards that allow them to take out money at specific banks we’ve partnered with throughout the country. In this way, families who have been displaced, families on their way back home, or those who have already returned, can access this cash when they are on the move and once they arrive, providing a buffer that will help them get through the day-to-day as they start building back their lives. The cash provided will enable families to buy food at local markets, ensuring their children will begin getting the nutritious food they need, while at the same time improving livelihoods for local farmers and vendors. So far we’ve helped close to 2,000 families through this project – and we’re scaling up in the coming weeks to provide this assistance to an additional 8,000 families.

What is the level of malnutrition among the children?

Even before the conflict, already one in three children under five years old in Côte d’Ivoire was suffering from chronic malnutrition. One in five children under five was considered underweight. With the outbreak of conflict and massive population movement, it has been difficult to gather accurate and up-to-date information on malnutrition rates; however Save the Children and other agencies working on malnutrition have observed worrying signs of increases in malnutrition, including some areas where severe acute malnutrition has increased in a matter of weeks. Save the Children has recently started up malnutrition screening and treatment for children under five in western Ivory Coast, where some of the worst of the fighting and looting took place during the conflict.

Are there any basic health services available to children?

One of the immediate results of the conflict was the breakdown in health services as hospitals and health centres closed in many areas due to the fighting, with health workers fleeing the areas hit by violence and the centres and hospitals themselves being looted and pillaged. Medicines and medical equipment were stolen, which meant that even once health workers began returning and hospitals began to re-open, patients were unable to receive the treatment they needed.

Another major concern has been health user fees – because so many families lost their means to an income, they could no longer afford medical care and treatment. As a result of advocacy by aid agencies like Save the Children however, the Ivorian government agreed to drop health user fees, passing a decree enabling families to access free health care throughout the country.

Today, health centres are largely open and running with the support of agencies like Save the Children, who ensure regular provision of medical supplies and essential medicines, as well as support in rehabilitating infrastructures destroyed during the conflict. For areas where there are no functioning health centres or hospitals running, Save the Children and other agencies have been running mobile outreach clinics, travelling to remote villages and towns to ensure that the health needs of children and their families’ are being addressed and proper care and treatment is provided.

What has been the psychological impact of the conflict?

Children have been exposed to enormous levels of violence and many have been separated from their families when they had to flee their homes. Save the Children’s teams have spoken to children who have fled violence in the west of the country who have seen their houses burnt down and family members killed. Even today, four months after the end of the fighting and over eight months since the elections, our teams are identifying children who had to leave relatives behind when they fled – and still do not know whether their family members are alive or dead. Some of the older children have lived through the 2002 conflict and have now been exposed to heavy violence in their lives for a second time – while it is clear that this has an immediate and profound impact on children, Save the Children is also concerned about the longer term psychological impact on children.

In the past weeks, our teams have spoken to children who consider the war to still be going on – despite the end of fighting and the resolution of the political crisis. We’ve also been to villages in the West where children no longer play in the same areas they used to go play in, as they no longer feel safe there. Save the Children is running regular play activities for children in Abidjan and in the West, areas hardest hit by the conflict. Through the spaces set up for these activities, Save the Children is providing an opportunity for children to play together in a safe area, getting a chance to be children again and regain a sense of normalcy to help them recover from the difficulties they’ve faced in the past months. The spaces also give children the chance to speak to an adult they can trust, trained by Save the Children to help children talk through their problems and ensure children have someone who will listen.

How can someone help Save the Children in the Ivory Coast?

Although the political crisis sparked by last year’s elections has now been resolved, immediate needs remain for hundreds of thousands of people, many of whom are still displaced from their homes even today. Save the Children is running an emergency response in the Ivory Coast to make sure that children are able to access enough nutritious food to stay healthy and strong; medical care and treatment; and clean drinking water. We’re also working closely with other agencies and the government so that children are well-protected against violence, abuse and exploitation, also making sure that children can get back into school. As families begin to return home, we are looking at transitioning some of our programmes into longer-term work to ensure that even once the immediate crisis has passed, children and their families are not forgotten, and continue to receive the assistance they need to build their lives back.

Someone who wanted to help Save the Children in the Ivory Coast can keep up to date on what we’re doing by signing up to Save the Children’s email updates, sent out regularly to supporters, providing information on what we’re doing on the ground. You can also check out our webpage on the Ivory Coast at our website and spread the word among your friends and family about what we’re doing to help children recover from the conflict. You can also donate here to help us continue our work and make sure we have the funding we need to continue to meet the needs of children and their families in the Ivory Coast.

Article first published as Post-Conflict Ivory Coast: An Interview with Annie Bodmer-Roy of Save the Children on Blogcritics.

1 Comment

Filed under global hunger, Ivory Coast, malnutrition, peace, plumpy'nut, Save the Children, West Africa

Nuclear Weapons, the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain

Imagine living along Lake Ontario in the British colony of Canada. The year is 1813 and Great Britain and the United States are at war. It is a cool April morning. You peer out across the Lake to watch the sunrise. The waters are calm, the surrounding countryside quiet. You gaze up and down the Lake for American warships. There are none in sight…..but where are they?

Little do you know that a fleet of American warships is readying for battle. At Sackets Harbor in the eastern end of Lake Ontario, American soldiers are boarding warships. Crewmen prepare the rows of cannons that will be unleashing fury on Canadian forts and towns. Within hours, the American fleet will set out, heading west on Lake Ontario. Word reaches quickly up the Lake that the warships are coming. You notice a figure upon a distant hilltop, giving signals that warn of the impending attack. Soldiers prepare themselves for the coming fight and everyone else wisely heads for cover. Your heart pounding, you run to warn your family.

During the War of 1812, the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain were the scene of such terror with fierce naval battles and coastal assaults. The war ended in 1814 and if you lived upon the Lakes you probably would hope never to see a warship again. You would soon be granted your wish.

Sackets Harbor, NY during the War of 1812 (U.S. Naval Historical Center)

View from the top of Mount Defiance overlooking Fort Ticonderoga and Lake Champlain. (National Archives)

When President James Monroe prepared his first annual message to Congress in 1817, he had some good news. He announced an agreement between the U.S. and Great Britain that disarmed the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain. Now, with the Rush-Bagot agreement, naval warships would virtually disappear from the Lakes.

Monroe stated, “By this arrangement useless expense on both sides and, what is of still greater importance, the danger of collision between armed vessels in those inland waters, which was great, is prevented.”

President Monroe knew the Rush-Bagot agreement would spare the U.S. and Britain from a dangerous naval arms race. That objective was accomplished and went a long way toward improving British-American relations. But the story does not end there. The lessons of the Rush-Bagot agreement would also be applied during the nuclear arms race of the Cold War.

It was 1963, just one year removed from the Cuban Missile Crisis which brought the Soviet Union and the United States to the brink of nuclear war. The near holocaust placed an increased urgency on controlling the nuclear arms race. Focus shifted to achieving a treaty which would ban nuclear weapons testing, an effort started during the Eisenhower administration and carried over to his successor, John F. Kennedy. Such a treaty could improve relations between the two adversaries and place some restriction on armaments development. In July 1963, the Soviet and American negotiations produced the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which banned nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater and in outer space. President Kennedy viewed it as”a step towards peace- a step towards reason- a step away from war.”

Nuclear Weapons Test during the 1950s. (National Archives photo)

Yet, although the Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed, it still needed to be ratified by the U.S. Senate to take effect. Not everyone agreed the treaty was a step in the right direction. Some believed it would weaken America’s national security by limiting development of nuclear armaments. Back in 1817, the same argument could have been made against the Rush-Bagot agreement since it did deprive the U.S. of naval forces on the Lakes, which proved so vital to its successes during the War of 1812.

Before the Senate would vote on the Limited Test Ban, it held hearings to listen to testimony from key experts. Among those called to testify was Harold Stassen, former disarmament advisor to President Eisenhower. Stassen would invoke the lessons of the Rush-Bagot agreement to support ratification of the Limited Test Ban. Why? Stassen did so because of the Rush-Bagot agreement’s effectiveness as an arms control measure makes its lessons timeless.

Harold Stassen (far left) being sworn in to represent the U.S. in disarmament negotiations in 1955. (Eisenhower Library)

The Rush-Bagot agreement also set a precedent for including a termination clause in an arms control treaty. This would allow either nation to legally withdraw from the treaty should its national security become threatened. A termination clause was seen as vital in the case of the Limited Test Ban Treaty due to the unpredictability of the nuclear arms race.

When asked by Senator Frank Carlson about the termination clause of the Limited Test Ban Treaty Stassen replied,”I don’t think it is generally recalled that we have the right in relation to the old Rush-Bagot Treaty over the arms limitation of the Great Lakes with Canada which was in 1817, still in force, and it is the forerunner of the peaceful border with Canada. It came after the War of 1812 and there was great difficulty and fighting. President Monroe took the leadership and the military of that day, many of them sincerely had misgivings and said, how can we defend the United States if we can’t arm the Great Lakes, and President Monroe said, let’s do it but let’s put on a 6-month termination clause…it is a right within a treaty, in other words, within the terms of the contract, under which you can bring the contract to a close, and I think the Joint Chiefs are right in this kind of a world situation to have a safeguard of that kind…”

The Rush-Bagot Treaty at Fort Niagara overlooking Lake Ontario (author's collection)

The example of the Rush-Bagot agreement supported arguments for a limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Stassen was among those whose testimony helped achieve the treaty’s passage in the Senate, thereby providing a respite from the Cold War and a dramatic turnaround from the Cuban Missile Crisis.

President Kennedy Signs the Limited Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in October, 1963 (National Archives)

Reporters Gather Around the Limited Test Ban Treaty (National Archives)

President Reagan’s arms control director, Eugene Rostow, speaking before the Senate in 1981, used the example of Rush-Bagot as inspiration that arms control could be achieved with the Soviet Union.

Rostow stated that the Rush-Bagot Treaty was”rather dull.” But he was actually praising the agreement saying the very fact it was dull”is the most convincing evidence of its success.” Rostow added”it was by no means self-evident in 1817 that the Agreement would work. The passions of the Revolutionary War and the War of 1812 survived and rankled. There was great tension between the United States and Great Britain over Canada on several occasions during the nineteenth century. In these periods, the Rush-Bagot agreement was a genuine influence for restraint….where there is a general political understanding about the limits of rivalry, arms control agreements can help to prevent friction and conflict from degenerating into war.” The Reagan administration achieved the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty with the Soviet Union in 1987. The INF Treaty eliminated both countries’ medium and shorter-range nuclear missiles which had been dangerously deployed in Europe.

Today, the Rush-Bagot concept of avoiding a dangerous and expensive arms competition will be very appealing for President Obama as he forges his foreign policy. The staggering costs of nuclear weaponry, as much as 52 billion annually according to a 2008 Carnegie Endowment for International Peace report, make disarmament even more desirable. Obama is likely to start by trying to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) which would ban all test explosions including underground.

When one visits Rush-Bagot memorials such as the one at Fort Niagara, NY they will learn about a key turning point in British-American relations. But it goes even deeper than that. The Rush-Bagot agreement is a pillar in the history of arms control and its lessons can be applied to the international crises of today.

Arms control and disarmament can play a role in establishing peace among nations. As John Quincy Adams said about the idea of an arms race on the Great Lakes,”the moral and political tendency of such a system must be to war and not to peace.” The Rush-Bagot agreement and its timeless lessons can help in the never-ending struggle to achieve peace among nations.

Rush-Bagot Memorial at Fort Niagara in New York (author's collection)


article published at History News Network.

Original version of article published at Fortress Niagara in June, 2004. View the article below.

Page 1 page 2 page 3 page 4

Read more of the the testimony of Eugene Rostow where he talks about the Rush-Bagot agreement. (courtesy Cincinnati Public Library)

The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

Available at Google Ebookstore, Amazon.com or Barnes and Noble

Leave a comment

Filed under arms control, Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, CTBT, disarmament, Dwight Eisenhower, Fort Niagara, Great Lakes, Harold Stassen, Lake Champlain, nuclear arms control, nuclear testing, nuclear weapons, peace, Rush-Bagot Agreement, War of 1812